Is It Possible To Rebuild Trust In A Relationship After It’s Been Broken?

Max Will came up with one of the best lists I’ve seen in a while.

Photo above by Relationships Matter Austin.

Follow these easy steps that I just came up with at 4am in order to organise your thinking about it:

Does the other person see it as a betrayal as well?

  • Yes (Go to question 2).
  • No (Trust can't be rebuilt. The other person does not see that as a betrayal and fails to understand why that matters to you). Game over.

2. Does the other person took responsibility and ownership for their acts that led to the betrayal?

  • Yes (Go to question 3).
  • No (Trust can't be rebuilt. The other person can't admit that they are responsible for their own actions and therefore, they wouldn't be able to understand how to rebuild trust). Game over.

3. When confronted with the accusation of betrayal, did the other person tried to put the blame on someone else or excuse their actions because of something else (An event or other person)?

  • Yes (Trust can't be rebuilt. The other person is trying to manipulate you and diverge their responsibility for the betrayal). Game over.
  • No (Go to question 4).

4. Are you capable of forgiving without remorse, completely erasing the fact it was a betrayal and seeing that fact from now on as a learning opportunity for the other person? (that is, without bringing it up later on in life because the person stepped on your foot or left the toilet seat up).

  • Yes (You're a mythical creature! An evolved being). Go to question 5.
  • No (You're a normal human. The betrayal will slowly consume the love, trust and admiration you have for the person, until there's nothing left. Trust can't be rebuilt. It can take 1 month or 10 years to come back, but it will, undermining your thoughts). Game over.

5. Do you possess the patience necessary to teach someone who made a mistake, offering guidance without being frustrated?

  • Yes (Damn… you might be the best person on earth. Jackpot for the betrayer). Go to question 6.
  • No (A person that made a mistake in your eyes needs to be retaught with your values. If you don't have that skill in you, trust can't be rebuilt. Your guidance would be vital to rebuilding trust again). Game over.

6. Is the person capable of saying sorry to you in a sincere way, admitting their mistakes and making a commitment to learn and change the behaviour that caused the betrayal?

  • Yes (Careful. Some people are very good at manipulating emotions to get what they want. Analyse the history you have with that person and see if there’s a pattern of fake apologies and broken promises in their past, even with other people. If yes, game over, trust can't be rebuilt. If no, go to question 7).
  • No (Building trust back requires an apology. If that can't be done, you'll be forever emotionally crippled. Trust can't be rebuilt. Move away from that person as there is a chance they will hurt you even more). Game over.

7. Are you the only one who knows about the betrayal?

  • Yes (Good. This way you can heal at your own time, without external pressure. Take your time to think about what you need to build the trust back). Go to question 8.
  • No (Your reputation is damaged and it is very hard to dust that off. It might feel like a humiliation to have your private matters publicly exposed. Your self-worth is likely to decrease and the toll of that might be too big for you. Trust can't be rebuilt). Game over.

8. Do you have a strong network of friends and family?

  • Yes (At least you have support 24/7. When you're not feeling at your best, you know you have people you can trust and count on to help you feel in control again. That's absolutely necessary). Go to question 9.
  • No (It's tough to go through this alone and you shouldn't. The stress of rebuilding a relationship and teaching new moral values to an adult would be immense, therefore, you need a support network to maintain your own sanity. This way, without support, your mental health would be at stake. Trust can't be rebuilt). Game over.

9. Do you know your yourself and your core values very well?

  • Yes (That's a solid foundation for teaching. You're less likely to fall into emotional traps and be manipulated. You might have all it takes to make this work. Start paving the road of trust). Go to question 10.
  • No (You're not in a position to be a moral guide. You have to know yourself first before trying to teach life lessons to someone. Your core values are still being shaped and they are vulnerable to emotional hackers. You'll be easily manipulated and hurt again. Not worth it. Trust can't be rebuilt). Game over.

10. Are you the one that betrayed?

  • Yes (You're a dick! Seriously. Learn how to be a better person. Life is not a soap opera and your actions have real consequences in the real world. It's time to grow up and stop hurting people because of your own insecurities. Own up your mistakes and amend the damages to the person you betrayed). Game over.
  • No (I'm sorry you had to endure that. You're not alone. Everyone has been hurt before and that's part of life. You need to step forward when you feel ready. I truly hope this silly questionnaire has helped you to think about the issue and to put a smile on your face). You can now go back to your life.

No Max, it’s not silly. Thank you for your wisdom.

Key Takeaways

Aka My Take.

  • When I can use this list, I do.
  • Also been through shit, so I can smell it from afar.
  • I don’t ever expect anyone who wronged me to apologize yet alone acknowledge they did something. They are more sorry that they didn’t get the results they wanted, which was sabotaging me.
  • I give people way too many chances. Including making the mistake of forgiving too quickly when it wasn’t deserved in a few instances. If they show they won’t ever change, I’m done. I’m keeping my distance from that person.
  • This is rare, but it happens every blue moon: There’s only one person I stayed friends with after they betrayed me. I’m careful around her and keep her in my outer outer outer circle. It will never be the same like it was before. I definitely keep her at arms length. Santa has the right idea of visiting people only once a year.
  • You got to give yourself what you wish you can get from someone else, many times in your life. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you absolutely need to hear a version of sorry, imagine they are saying it to you using this Vishen Lakhiani mediation.
  • When you stop having expectations from people, you don’t have to worry about them disappointing you.
  • Many times, I had to face the brunt of things by myself. I had my mom, but many of my peers sided against me throughout the years. This has really given me thick skin.
  • You really got to recognize when people say they are sorry and mean it, versus people who say sorry just to get another opportunity to dig at you. I’ve had quite a few apologize just to find out they were up to their old games.
  • As I stated in several articles, if they impacted my life in a negative way, I stay 100 miles away from them. My version of forgiving is forgetting. Not thinking about them, staying away, and living your life. I know it’s not the Catholic way but I’m not God. (Not a huge fan of priests or the church for the time being, but that’s another story. Google or read here). I’m a human who refuses to be anyone’s whipping board. (Some people don’t deserve to be forgiven, in my mind because they keep doing the same shit and obviously not sorry. Let me stop before I’m seen as cold, lol).
  • If you were the d*****bag in the situation and someone isn’t ready or wanting to forgive you, leave them alone and move on with your life. Forgive yourself and don’t look for it from the person you wronged. BUT CORRECT YOUR BEHAVIOR. Don’t do what you did to no one else, ever. Do some soul searching on why you felt like you had to do it in the first place, and stop trying to hurt people because of your insecurities.

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